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SMC Swimming: Olivet, Hillsdale inch past Saint Mary’s in pool

Joe Meixell | Monday, January 21, 2008

Saint Mary’s was a few relays and a couple of inches short of two victories over the weekend.

The tables turned against the Belles in the match against Olivet on Friday night when the Belles’ record setting 200-yard medley relay was called back due to an early handoff. In the match Saturday, Saint Mary’s came within six points of beating rival Hillsdale, but fell short in a few critical races.

Belles coach Ryan Dombkowski hopes the losses will help bring his team together and that they can learn what it takes to become a great program.

“We know now that we are right on the cusp of becoming a great program, now we just have to be willing to put in that extra effort to push us over the top,” Dombkowski said. “Two close losses might leave us hungry enough to become a far better program than a win-loss record could ever reflect.”

Despite the losses, there were strong performances by individuals in both matches this weekend. On Friday night, Casey Niezer was able to win the 100-yard race and was just beaten out in the 200. Caroline Arness and Jen Lebidez both had season best times and performed well in the 200-yard fly.

Dombkowski said freshman Molly Schall had a lifetime best swim in the 500-yard freestyle.

On Saturday night, junior captain Melissa Gerbeth, who was victorious in both the 1650 and 500-yard freestyle, led St. Mary’s. Hillsdale was able to win eight of the 13 events but the race came down to the last half second.

The relay team was .41 seconds behind the Hillsdale team, leading to a loss for the Belles.

Saint Mary’s next match is on Friday night against Calvin College who is currently ranked No. 4 in NCAA Division III.